If you've ever been 1) in your early 20s, and 2) in NYC, chances are good you've taken part in the weekend march of the sobriety-impaired up and down 3rd Avenue. And since there's a chance someone (a hot girl) at some point (at any point, really) will convince you to stumble across 34th Street again, you might as well do it at one of these 11 actually-not-terrible bars in much-maligned Murray Hill.
11 Murray Hill bars that DON'T suck
This spot -- which combines the names of Murray Hill and Kip’s Bay -- has turned a space that was once a forgettable Italian restaurant into a memorable neighborhood spot with an inviting atmosphere, a nice-but-small draft list, a solid classic cocktail list, and fortifiers like dope buttermilk-fried chicken, tequila mussels, and a bomb burger on a brioche bun with Nueske’s smoked bacon and white cheddar.
This sports bar specializes in soccer (it’s a Manchester City bar), has proper (20oz!) pints of English brew, some great eats like a baked Scotch egg and The Cricketer burger with a fried egg, pork, and HP sauce, and this absolutely incredible backyard beer garden.
Whether it’s the fact that they're playing The Clash or the actually fun wine bar vibe (maybe the only place where this isn't an oxymoron), the MH branch of this mini-vino empire is every bit as cool as the East Village one, and it’s a bit more spacious to enjoy a Summer of Riesling along with charcuterie, meatballs, and banh mi.
You might miss this hidden gem of a craft beer bar in the former Whiskey River spot (or you may just miss Whiskey River), since it’s dimly lit and not particularly well-marked. Head in though, and get one of 30 craft beers or a cocktail in a space that feels an awful lot like the owners' other spot Drop Off Service on Ave A. Bonus: you won't have to worry about having a beer pong ball bounce off your leg.
With a classic-but-still-not-too-classic vibe -- that seems to repel the thirsty dude hordes at bars nearby that rhyme with Shmonic and The Shmoshua Tree -- Cask gets busy but never too cramped. The raised dining area has an awesomely rustic décor with wooden tables and a 100-year-old floor that hardly ever gets bombs spilled on it. Enjoy some prosciutto truffle flatbreads and a bottle of Allagash Black.
You might not expect to find an A-list cocktail bar tucked inconspicuously into a two-story town house-esque spot on 33rd St, but it’s there, and the pedigreed team behind it (Little Branch, Milk & Honey…) is slinging amazing cocktails that include both bespoke options and originals like the rum-based Island Old Fashioned or classics like a Sazerac.
If you avoid walking past the Jersey Shore-esque scene outside of certain bars (you know who you are) on a Saturday night, than you’ll love this spot, which feels like something out of Midnight in Paris, thanks to a nuanced French café/jazz bar feel that offers legit wine and small plates like ham, onion, and Gruyere tartes.
If you're looking for a less-packed and fishbowl-less alternative to nearby sports bars, you could do worse than Tavern on Third; there’re up to 70 beers on tap to choose from, and plenty of screens, including individual TVs at tables for you to cheer on the Rangers and Giants or make sarcastic remarks during Mets games. There’s also a draft table with personal taps, so you can get beers into your mouth even faster while you munch on fried mac 'n cheese balls.
Replacing the loud, dark club feel of the bar that used to reside in its location with a relaxing décor that will make you momentarily think you took a cab to the West Village, W&B has cocktails that use fruit that's juiced daily (like some neighboring clientele... zing!), and they make a hell of an Old Fashioned with the sweetest boozed-up brandied cherries that might only be surpassed in awesomeness by their own version of the Cronut -- a brunch menu-only Doissant.
This quiet spot won’t have too many packs of dudes in suits drinking after work, but it is a nice alternative for brunch or a date. The mushroom ravioli and hanger steak are dinner favorites, and the eggs in a basket and the merguez sandwich on ciabatta with scrambled eggs, Turkish cheese, and tomato is a breakfast favorite. And, as always, you’ll have plenty of awesome wines to choose from.
It might look like a college town dive bar, but its food and drink reach way beyond. The whiskey list is insane and the Texas Dip Sandwich and the wild-game burgers are always excellent choices, but the nachos might actually be one of the best in the city. Plus, they’ve got free popcorn.
Jeff Finkle is a freelance writer who has been known to name-drop trending celebs like Abe Vigoda and boast about mastering "Hot Cross Buns" on the snare drum in the 5th grade. Follow Jeff on Twitter and read his mostly fictional tales on his blog.
1. Hill and Bay581 2nd Ave, New York
2. Whitman & Bloom Liquor Company384 3rd Ave, New York
3. Cask Bar & Kitchen167 E 33rd St, New York
4. Albion575 2nd Ave, New York
5. Terroir439 3rd Ave, New York
6. Vanguard Wine Bar530 2nd Ave, New York
7. Waterfront Ale House540 2nd Ave, New York
8. Tavern on Third380 3rd Ave, New York
9. The Madhatter Pub and Eatery360 3rd Ave, New York
10. Lallisse Mediterranean Wine & Food161 Lexington Ave, New York
11. Middle Branch154 E 33rd St, New York
Hill and Bay (so named for the neighborhoods on either side of it) is a solid choice in the area, whether you're interested in a quality draft, a well-made cocktail, or are hungry for something substantial, like fried chicken or a burger.
Whitman & Bloom Liquor Company is serving up a “rustic American menu” using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients under the roof of this Kips Bay neighborhood joint. It's one part speakeasy, one part rustic and one part piano bar.
Cask is a class act all the way, with 100yr-old reclaimed wood floors and an antique bar, it's the perfect atmosphere to sip one of their cask-conditioned beers or peruse their exceptional selection of wines. If you don’t want to fist pump with about a million other bros during this happiest of hours, this is your best Murray Hill option. It’s got a rustic vibe, no stale beer smell, plus $5 beers (Victory, Sierra, Blue Point) and $6 wines from 4-8pm.
Although its dimly lit and not particularly well-marked, this Murray Hill drink spot is actually a pretty solid option, serving 30 craft beers and a number of tasty cocktails.
One of a number of locations across the city, the Murray Hill spot is just as fun and tasty as the rest, with a relatively spacious interior and a great selection of vino and small bites.
This Murray Hill wine bar feels like something out of Midnight in Paris, thanks to a nuanced, French café/jazz bar feel that offers legit wine and small plates like ham, onion and gruyere tartes. Expect to hear Sinatra playing overhead and classic movies streaming at the bar.
BBQ and craft brews are the name of the game at this Midtown establishment. They have a selection of over 20 rotating craft beers and another 80+ bottles both domestic and international.
Tavern on Third has up to 70 beers on draft, some of which are available via sticking-right-out-of-your-table personal taps (!), tons of TVs to watch the game, and eats like fried mac 'n cheese balls.
This pub's evolved from centuries of British Alehouses, taverns, pubs, and chippys. It's got some of the best authentic British food this side of the pond too.
Lallisse transports New Yorkers to the wine and food scene going on in the cafes of Paris, Rome, Madrid, Athens, and Istanbul. It’s a haven for real wines that are sprung from the vineyards and ancient cultures of the Mediterranean.
You might not expect to find an A-list cocktail bar tucked inconspicuously into a two-story town house-esque spot on 33rd St, but it’s there, and the pedigreed team behind it (Little Branch, Milk & Honey…) is slinging amazing cocktails that include both bespoke options and originals like the rum-based Island Old Fashioned. The exterior is decidedly nondescript, with nary a sign announcing the bars presence, while the inside is adorned with embossed wallpaper, exposed brick and dark woods all under a pressed-tin ceiling. Cocktails are reasonably priced for Manhattan and don't even sacrifice the chiseled ice or ingredients added with eyedroppers.